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Hi, fellas. I'm a total and absolute smoking newbie! I will be getting a new Amerique in about four weeks and I'm under pressure to make the first smoked product a good one. You see, my wife is a skeptic and claims she doesn't like smoked meats. However, I've seen her eat smoked meats from barbeque restaurants and thoroughly enjoy it. i'm convinced that what she doesn't like is OVER-SMOKED meats. I'm convinced of that enough to go ahead with my Amerique purchase. What I need advice on is my first cookout. What meat and recipe would you recommend to a complete newbie like me so that I can win her over to my side? I think the first impression will be a lasting one. Any advice?
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What's her favorite type of Protein? Seafood, Beef, Pork.

The challenge is that it's very difficult to hit it out of the part the first time you cook. Even experienced guys will take a couple of cooks to learn the specifics of a new smoker.

Of course, for me, Pulled Pork is pretty hard to screw up.
Welcome to the Cookshack forum Moxy.

The Amerique is a great smoker with plenty of capacity to feed the whole neighborhood, which you'll be doing by the time summer rolls around Big Grin

Your smoker with arrive with a 5 lb box of hickory chunks. Seasoning the smoker is the 1st step. Put 3-4 oz of wood (an ounce scale is highly recommended as the chunks vary by weight) in the box & set the smoker for 250 and let it run about 4 hrs. This will create a patina on the inside.

I'd suggest a pork butt for your maiden voyage...they're almost fool proof and the rendering fat will further develop seasoning. Look for a bone-in pork butt (Boston Butt) in the 6-7 lb range. Apply a generous layer of rub, wrap in plastic and rest it for a few hrs.

Set your smoker for 250 and add 3 ounces of wood. It doesn't look like much but it's VERY easy to over smoke in the AQ with too much wood...which wouldn't go well with the Mrs. Set the butt in the middle rack with the blade bone facing you and insert a digital thermometer. Go play a round or two of golf Smiler

Figure on 70 minutes per pound. When the temp reads 190, open the door and give the bone a tug. If it releases from the meat, the butt's done. This will happen somewhere between 190-196 degrees. Another way of testing doneness is with a skewer or meat fork. If it slides in and out with little resistance; it's done.

Once done, wrap the meat in a double layer of foil and rest it 30 minutes. You're now ready to pull and eat.

You can find more info on butts, brisket, ribs etc HERE And you'll find a great sauce for the pulled pork HERE

Recommended wood amounts: ribs = 2 oz, pork butts = 3-4 oz, brisket = 3-5 oz depending on weight, chicken = 1 oz

Let us know if you have further questions...we have a lot of experienced backyard and competition pros on hand to help.
Welcome to the forum. You will love your AQ, I know I do mine!. First thing I would do if you haven't already is read the forum, so much GREAT info here. First cook I would say pork butt. Butts are very forgiving. AQ's are very efficient so not to over smoke I would recommend 2 of 3 ounces of wood and weigh it, less is better first so not to scare off the wife. Season your smoker per instructions first and let the journey begin!
Welcome Moxy. The Amerique is a fantastic smoker and you are in for years of great food. On the subject of wood, I axe split my chunks (from Cookshack) into 2 and 1 ounce pieces, weighed on a digital scale (good grips). This way I can do 1, 2, 3 ounce (or more) without guessing by feel. One severely over smoked butt convince me to weigh.

I agree that a butt is a great first choice. Lots of versatility with the finished product. I generally start the smoke late at night so that we are having a late lunch/early supper the next day.

Something to be aware of is the stall, those last few degrees before you reach your set temp of 190 or whatever. It will seem like an eternity before it gets there. Be patient. You will be rewarded.
Like everyone says, take it easy on the wood the first few times. Start out with less and add more with each smoke until you get to your desired smoke level. My neighbor used to say she hated BBQ, way too much smoke. Then she tried my BBQ a few times. I've now converted her over.

And like everyone else has said, a pork butt is real hard to mess up. And don't freak out when the butt stalls, it'll stay at the same temp for hours, you'll probably think something is wrong and will be tempted to bump up the temperature. Don't just leave it alone, once it gets out of the stall, the temp will start to rise pretty quickly.

Welcome to the forum, you're about to embark on a FUN journey!
A footnote on chicken, Moxy. Use your highest heat setting of 300. Lower temps tend to make the skin rubbery. Poultry takes on smoke very readily. I suggested a 1 oz chunk of wood but you'll find that the seasoning will provide smoke flavor with no wood at all in the box.

Brining will increase flavor & juiciness.
Moxy - Although it has been inferred here, also pick up a digital thermometer. It will help you track progress, and while you don't always need it to tell when the meat is done, it helps to have it to know when to check.

I also recommend a pork butt as the first smoke and only one chunk wood. Rub the butt with a simple rub, I use:

1 part kosher salt
1 part turbinado sugar
1 part paprika
1/2 part fresh ground pepper

Add or subtract components to your taste if you wish, but this is a good starting point.

If you don't get enough smoke flavor, add another chunk next time. It is an experiential process.

Other good choices for an initial smoke are turkey breasts, a large chuck or arm roast, and a leg of lamb; particularly nice for easter.

There is nothing easier to smoke than a precooked ham. Buy a shank ham, rinse and pat dry, smoke until internal temperature is 145F. Serve as is, or glaze with maple syrup or fruit preserves and finish off under a broiler.

Smoked Canadian bacon is pretty easy. Buy a pork loin, cure with Morton's Tender Quick or Sugar Cure and smoke to 145 F. slice and use for sandwiches or fry for breakfast.

Fish is a little tricky, but a salmon filet that is thick enough to take a temperature probe is pretty good. Take it to 145F. Eat warm as a main dish, cold as it is, or in salad.

Smoked meatloaf, although it sounds weird, is wonderful.

So are chubbies; that is smoked sausage.

My wife likes brisket, but I don't care for it. So I smoke a lot of it. You will likely have a similar experience.

My favorite thing to smoke is pork ribs.

If given the choice between a small piece of meat to smoke or a large one, choose the large one. It will help keep smoker temperatures constant and leftovers are good for everything.

Keep notes. It will help in future smokes.
I second what MaxQ mentioned - regarding over smoking chicken, and even ribs for that matter. On the electric smokers, if doing chicken, fish, or even ribs - I highly recommend you get the wood smoking first, and let it burn off it's initial 15 minutes of heavier white smoke, until it settles down to more of the typical 'thin blue smoke'. Then load your meat in the smoker. This will definitely help avoid any of the bitter taste the white smoke can impart, which is perhaps what your wife doesn't like the taste of.

Hope all worked out for your first cook !

Originally posted by MaxQ:
A footnote on chicken, Moxy. Use your highest heat setting of 300. Lower temps tend to make the skin rubbery. Poultry takes on smoke very readily. I suggested a 1 oz chunk of wood but you'll find that the seasoning will provide smoke flavor with no wood at all in the box.

Brining will increase flavor & juiciness.

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